honorat: (Will and Elizabeth by Honorat)
[personal profile] honorat
By Honorat
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer PotC, pick up the characters in Port Royal, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out!

Summary: Will and Elizabeth have a teen-aged moment and one perfect day. Estrella gets a few prematurely gray hairs. An interlude to relieve the tragedy in the story of the fall of J. Brown. More movie novelization and missing scenes. Still entirely off the edge of the map.

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] geek_mama_2, for the wonderful beta work; I’ll buy you a hat—a really big one.

Links to previous chapters:
Prologue: To Miss An Appointment
Ch. 1: Pirate Attack
Ch. 2: Unrestrained Piracy
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 1
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 2
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 3
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 4
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 5

* * * * *

At last, the doctor pronounced Will fit to return to work. Will’s feelings were not unalloyed with regret as he walked back to the smithy after escorting Elizabeth home. His life would again be swallowed in the unrelenting labour of the forge. Elizabeth would have no more excuse to visit him. Hearing the clatter of hooves behind him, he stepped aside to allow the governor’s carriage to pass. To his surprise, the vehicle halted and the footman leaped to the horses’ heads. The governor leaned one elegant hand on the window frame of the door and peered out.

“A moment of your time, Mr. Turner?” Governor Swann requested graciously.

“Of course, sir,” Will said, although he felt the stir of unease that always accompanied his coming to the attention of Elizabeth’s father.

“I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve detained you like this?” the governor asked.

“Yes, sir?” Will’s tone was questioning.

Seeming to switch to an entirely new topic, the governor said, “The doctor tells me that you will be returning to work in two days.”

Will nodded. “Yes, sir.” Why had the governor been discussing his condition with the doctor?

“Good. That is very good.” Governor Swann beamed. “I am glad to hear you are fit again.”

“Thank you, sir.”

There was a brief pause. The governor cleared his throat. “I understand my daughter has been very charitable to you in your convalescence,”

Will’s sense of humour nearly betrayed him into an inappropriate smile. The amusement was pungently bitter-edged. He supposed charity was one term for it.

“Miss Swann has been most considerate, sir,” he said, politely subservient.

“I trust you understand that her visits will have to cease now,” the governor said, with a kindness that drew like knives through Will’s soul.

“Of course, sir. I am very grateful to her,” he answered, striving to remain unmoved.

“The wife of a very dear friend, Lady Ingleham, has invited Elizabeth to spend the season at their plantation on St. Kitts. My daughter will make her debut in society under her aegis,” the governor explained.

Will’s brows drew together in puzzlement. Why was he being given this information? “I am sure that is very kind of Lady Ingleham. Miss Swann must be very happy.”

His own heart, however, plummeted even further. Elizabeth was going away. He would no longer be granted the opportunity to see her even from a distance.

“Elizabeth is not happy at all,” Governor Swann groused parentally. “I have let that child run far too wild for far too long. But she shall go, nonetheless. I can trust Lady Ingleham to remove all unsuitable notions from her head. A woman of impeccable taste.”

Ah. So that was the problem. Again. Will wondered what Elizabeth had said that had resurrected that spectre in the governor’s mind.

“Sir,” Will said softly, “if you wish to discover whether or not I remember our conversation of two years past, suffice it to say that I do. The difference between Miss Swann’s station and my own is perfectly evident to me. You have no cause for concern.”

“Well now.” The governor cleared his throat again. “That is very good of you, Mr. Turner. You are a fine young man.”

The moment stretched out awkwardly. Will longed to be as far away as possible, some place where he did not have to keep up this polite mask that was nearly paralyzing his face.

Finally, Will broke the silence. “If that is all, sir, may I bid you good day? I shall have an early morning tomorrow.”

The governor seemed relieved. “Yes, of course. I shall not keep you any longer. Good day, Mr. Turner.”

“Good day, Governor Swann.”

The footman vaulted back onto the carriage, and the gray horses drew it away with swift, staccato steps, dappled flanks flashing, leaving Will in the dust.

He continued his journey down the hill, moving faster until he was nearly running. But he could not escape his thoughts. All things had their endings. And this was theirs. The end of their idyll. Elizabeth would be whisked away from him like a valuable painting from an open flame. She would be reabsorbed into her own world, as he would be into his. With his tasks at the smithy conspiring to devour his time, and her father conspiring to surfeit her time with amusement, the two of them would drift apart. When he saw her again, she would have assumed her place in her world, as far above him as the polar star from the restless sea.

As must happen, he reminded himself. This interlude was naught but a dreamlike interruption of their real lives. Like the fever-mad nightmares, it would fade into memory, replaced by the glaring light of inescapable reality.

Elizabeth had never shown any talent for accepting reality. So it would be up to him to accept it for both of them.

Suddenly it was more than he could bear. Will had never stood against the pressures of his life. He had always flowed gracefully aside, all smooth surface with treacherous currents well-hidden, often even from himself. But water will eventually wear away stone, and that afternoon a crack appeared in the granite.

If this was to be their last day together before the currents of their lives swept them apart again, if the worst thing that could happen to them had already been promised, then he would seize that day in both hands and carve it into a monument of memory. Too soon, the restraints would chain them back in their respective cages. But for one golden day, he would give in to Elizabeth’s total disregard for all restraint. He would forget who Elizabeth was, who he was. They would have one last perfect day, as if they were still children immune to scandal, one day to carry down those separate paths they would be forced to tread.

Will set out purposefully for the docks.

Governor Swann would not have recognized the look in the respectful blacksmith’s eyes—the fire was unbanked.

* * * * *

Estrella, who had it firmly entrenched in her mind that Will Turner was a good lad who would never step over the line of appropriate behaviour, was well into lending her countenance to the adventure before little warning flags began to run up her subconscious. There was something unsettling about the boy this morning.

The night before had been a stormy one at the governor’s residence, with Elizabeth protesting that she had no desire to go on parade for the marriage mart. But for once the tempestuous Miss Swann had failed to sway her indulgent parent. To St. Kitts she would go and that was final. That morning had found Elizabeth as close to the sulks as such a straightforward girl could be. It had been a relief to all concerned when she had insisted on one last walk along the shore with that blacksmith.

Leaving her household to begin the flurry of preparations—she cared nothing for what ridiculous garments they chose to send with her—Elizabeth set out, Estrella in tow, for the shore. They met Will halfway there. Elizabeth came out from under her cloud and began to shine again the minute he told her they would be doing something different that afternoon.

“Where are we going?” she begged, all coquettish entreaty and dark, beseeching eyes.

“It’s a surprise,” Will grinned at her and set out with his long strides that made Estrella trot to keep up.

“Will I like it?” Elizabeth persisted, intrigued by this new side of her childhood friend.

“Oh yes,” Will assured her. “You’ll like it.”

“Does my father know about it?” she asked curiously as they turned aside from their usual path along the shore and instead made their way towards the docks.

Will looked at her, his eyes unguarded and kindling. “He most certainly does not.”

“Oh, Will!” Elizabeth clapped her hands. “Would he disapprove?”

Will raised an eloquent eyebrow and tilted his chin warningly towards their out-of-breath follower.

Elizabeth covered her mouth, sharing a conspiratorial glance with him. She crowded close to him, and he dipped his head down close enough to inhale the fragrance of her hair. Banishing every customary conscientious qualm, he whispered wickedly, for her ears only, “He would be violently displeased, my lady.”

Giving a trill of laughter and a childish skip, Elizabeth exclaimed, “Then I already love it!”

She was bouncing in anticipatory circles around Will and Estrella by the time they reached a dilapidated dock on the edge of which sat an equally dilapidated and disreputable sailor with a peg leg, holding a painter attached to a real sea-going vessel. The man turned at their approach, his face crinkling into the hundreds of dark little lines belonging to a grin missing far too many teeth for charm.

“Aftahnoon, Will. Ladies,” he said.

“Good afternoon, Aaron,” Will greeted him holding out a hand to shake the elderly man’s. He turned to Elizabeth. “Miss Swann, meet Aaron and your boat for the afternoon.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth breathed, her eyes wide with delight. She nearly tumbled off the dock in her enthusiasm.

Estrella mentally added another gray hair. She was too young for gray hairs.

“What’s her name?” Elizabeth asked, oblivious to her own peril as Will took a firm hold of her arm.

Pig,” the man said firmly.

Pig?” Elizabeth asked incredulously. “Why did you name her that?”

“Coz tha’s wot her sails like. A damn pig. Beggin’ yo pahdon,” he said with fond relish.

Elizabeth eyed him as if she wasn’t sure he was serious, but indeed, the name PIG was scrawled in limping, spavined letters on the boat’s stern.

Estrella eyed the boat as if she hoped very sincerely that Will wasn’t serious. “I really don’t think . . .” she started helplessly. “Miss Elizabeth, what would your father say if . . .” That was the wrong thing to mention this day.

Her high-spirited charge tossed her head at the mention of her father and let Will help her into the boat.

Estrella hovered and fluttered on the dock like a hen that has hatched a duckling. “Oh do be careful, Mr. Turner,” she begged. “Oh you shouldn’t . . .”

Will turned to help the poor woman follow Elizabeth.

With the air of a saint going to her martyrdom, Estrella gave in to the inevitable. “Please don’t let it rock!” was her only weak protest. She settled with a distraught moan on the grimy cushions Aaron had strewn in the bottom of his boat for the ladies. “I do so hate water.”

Aaron popped in with surprising alacrity for a one-legged man, and Will scrambled in after and shoved off from the dock.

The breeze was fair and light, and the boat easily caught it in her gaff-rigged sail and topsail and headed out of the harbour. The Pig was not one of the tall, graceful ladies of the sea—more like a short, dumpy little working girl, actually—but she bobbed along merrily and puffed out her canvas as though she were very well pleased with herself. Elizabeth loved her.

As Aaron directed their craft through the silken pats of the small wavelets, Elizabeth watched him intently. Leaning close to Will, she whispered hopefully, “Do you think he’s a pirate?”

“No! Of course not!” Will was horrified. As if he’d ever put her in any danger! But she looked so disappointed that he relented a little. If believing this man was a pirate would make her happy, he had no intention of spoiling her fun. “Perhaps he was a pirate before he lost his leg,” Will suggested.

Elizabeth brightened and stared at their pilot in renewed fascination.

Dark eyes glittering in his seamed black face, Aaron shared a grin with his young lady passenger.

When the Pig had scooted out of the harbour and round the point into the open sea, Will called to Aaron, “The lady would like to try her hand at sailing.”

“Oh yes! May I?” Elizabeth exclaimed, rocking the boat and causing Estrella to shriek faintly.

Eyeing the girl dubiously, Aaron seemed about to refuse, but Will reminded him, “I’m paying you for your time.” Will had spent the entire pittance of his life savings on this outing. The flash of a half crown completed the man’s change of heart.

Eagerly, Elizabeth clambered over piles of fishing nets, buckets, and a stray lobster pot to join Aaron at the stern. Grudgingly, he showed her how to control the rudder and the sails. When he finally left her alone with one hand on the mainsheet, the other on the worn teak tiller, Aaron had the cringing look of a man who expects any moment to be whacked on the head by a wild swing of the boom.

However, Elizabeth had not forgotten her time aboard the Dauntless six years earlier. She had more theoretical knowledge than practical experience, but this, Will thought, was where her heart lay. He could see in her eyes that rapt introspection he felt when he handled steel. The sea had always been Elizabeth’s passion.

Gradually, Aaron relaxed as it became apparent that Elizabeth was not going to swamp them. She didn’t always know what to do, but she was sensitive to what the ship was doing—something a hopeless landlubber wouldn’t be. His grin returned and he grew voluble, gesturing widely, praising and scolding with equal facility as he showed Elizabeth how to tack and gibe, how to watch the surface of the water for clues about what the wind was doing further ahead, how to read the motions of the sails and adjust them for the best results.

For some time Elizabeth sailed the little Pig in large squares, happy as a grig, while Will drank in every moment of this time with her like a condemned man does his last sight of freedom. The wind combed its fine fingers through her curls, rippling them like liquid gold. Estrella’s remonstration that her charge should wear her hat drowned unheard. Elizabeth did not care if she wore new freckles to her coming out ball. She shook her head and mussed her hair even further.

Will’s senses feasted on the music of her laugh as a capricious wave splashed over the bow, on the grace of her movements as she slipped the bulky, awkward craft sweetly through the sea, on the glitter of sunlight on the fine fair hairs of her arms, on the faraway, enraptured expression in her dark eyes as she looked out to the horizon.

It would be a crime to chain such a wondrous creature to a parlour and the mundane responsibilities of a household, to the life of a fashionable young woman, when she was so clearly meant to be set as free as the wind on the water.

The future hovered for a moment, shadowing the bright Caribbean day. Tomorrow he would return to a life made desolate—to unremitting loss. Tomorrow Elizabeth would set forth on a path that would lead her inexorably away from him and towards the constraint of her destiny. The happy child playing here today would be gone forever. He would not know the woman who emerged. With effort, Will shook off the chill that touched him. He would let neither the past nor the future spoil this day.

Will leaned his head back against the Pig’s gunnel, closing his eyes and letting the sun warm his face. The plash of the water on the hull, the brush of wind in his hair, the tang of fresh salt air in his lungs relaxed him, uncoiling some of the tension in him, banishing it back to Port Royal where it belonged. It was such a relief, for this brief moment, to be free.

* * * * *

Growing more adventurous by the moment, Elizabeth sent the Pig capering along the Jamaican shoreline. The little boat seemed to approve of her for she gave no sign of being piggish. The smooth, viridian flanks of the island framed the entire stretch of one horizon, fading gently to deep blue in the distance. Volcanic rocks jutted out of the shimmering, turquoise water, providing navigational excitement for an inexperienced pilot. The white encrusted black outcroppings cried and chattered and shrieked with the voices of their seething coating of seabirds. Up close the noise was an ear-wrenching cacophony, but as the boat drew past, the dissonance melted into the music of the sea. A small fleet of fishing boats off their starboard bow was attended by swarm of gulls like flecks of sunlight dancing in an impossibly blue sky. In her attempt to see everything around her all at once, Elizabeth had to be rescued from a wrong heading several times.

Will contributed to her distraction by pointing out fascinating wonders below the surface. Looking through the transparent, glittering water, he was mesmerized by a world he rarely had a chance to observe. The water fractured and swirled his view of brightly-coloured schools of fish, and farther down, the mottled patterns of pale sand and deep blue reefs. The shadow of their little boat chased along the ocean floor beneath them.

Poor Estrella had a heart-stopping moment when her two charges lunged for the lee side of the boat, shipping salt water, in their eagerness to stare at a hawksbill sea turtle gliding alongside them in leisurely curiosity. And they all had to dodge an unexpected swing of the boom when the giant black cross of a frigatebird sailed serenely overhead in its never-ending flight.

Trailing one hand in the ripple of the bow wave, Will enjoyed the liquid press of cool water on his sun-heated skin. Beads of salt spray clung to his forearm, chilling in the breeze. He felt as though two fathoms of water lay in insulation between himself and the events of the last few months. The release from that weight left him feeling buoyant and breathless.

Far away, to starboard, the edge of the sea faded nearly to white and then blended gently into the azure heavens. Will could almost imagine turning the bow of their little ship towards the rim of the world and chasing the sun down that horizon. A vague, uneasy sense of longing for some unknown destination, some unexplored and silent sea twisted in his soul.

* * * * *

As the afternoon drifted towards evening and the light lengthened over the sea, the chop increased until the Pig began to wallow.

“Bring ‘er about now, lass,” Aaron advised. “Time t’ take th’ ol’ gal home.”

While Elizabeth wrestled the increasingly aptly named boat around, Aaron kept up a running commentary on the art of meeting the higher seas with the prow. The Pig sashayed back and forth as she rode up one wave and down the other side.

Will was the one who noticed that Estrella was beginning to look uneasy, her face gone pale and greenish, her eyes large and dark.

“Are you well?” Will asked, concerned, leaning towards her.

She tried to give him a faint courageous smile. “No. Not in the least. I hate water!” And then she was bending over the side of the boat as her stomach revolted.

Slipping his arm around her in support, Will called to Aaron, “We must get her to shore as quickly as possible!”

Without protest, Elizabeth moved aside to allow the more experienced seaman to send the Pig hurtling along at her best speed.

As the little boat skipped over the waves, jolting against the larger swells, Estrella moaned and was sick again. Will continued to hold her, murmuring encouragement, while Elizabeth hovered nearby in contrition.

“I’m so sorry, Estrella. I didn’t know the sea made you sick,” she apologized.

Estrella tried to indicate that no apologies were necessary, but her body retched again.

Worried, Elizabeth asked Will, “Is she going to be all right?”

“I won’t die, if that’s what you’re asking,” Estrella managed. “I’ll only wish I could.”

Elizabeth, who had never been seasick a day in her life, snuggled up to her maid and rubbed her back. “Aaron will have you on shore in no time,” she encouraged.

The Pig made very good speed, as though she had abandoned being piggish for Estrella’s sake. Nevertheless, it seemed an unconscionably long time before they were back in the sheltered waters of the harbour, drawing near to a different dock, far from Port Royal.

As the little ship bumped up against the pilings of the dock, Will leapt out and caught the painter Aaron tossed to him. Making her fast, he leaned down to help Estrella out onto the planks. Elizabeth assisted her maid into Will’s hands and then scrambled out of the Pig on her own. The two of them helped their shaky chaperone along the dock to the sandy shore.

Estrella leaned heavily on the young blacksmith’s arm, feeling a tearful, emotional attachment to land that did not move. She did not pay any attention to where they had docked. All that mattered was that they were no longer at sea.

“Come this way,” Will was directing. “There will be a place for you to lie down in a cool shelter.”

That idea sounded lovely to Estrella. She was supposed to be playing propriety for these two children, but surely they could not get into too much trouble if she lay down for a few moments—just until her head stopped aching. Will Turner was such a responsible young man.

* * * * *
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 6b

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